A few months ago, Jill and I hosted a prohibition themed party. Researching food and drinks for the party, we came across a cocktail named the Bee’s Knees. Once we came across this cocktail, we began to see it more and more often. The cocktail (or a variation of it) is a regular feature on the menus at Liberty Bar and Restaurant and Madison Social.
Here is my version of the cocktail. I use Beefeater London Dry Gin in this particular cocktail because of how well it pairs with lemon and orange peel. The lavender complements the honey well.
2 oz Beefeater London dry gin
1/2 oz Freshly squeezed lemon juice
3/4 oz Lavender and orange peel infused honey simple syrup (see below)
Add all of the ingredients to a cocktail shaker and shake with ice. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a lemon twist.
To make the lavender and orange peel infused honey simple syrup you will need:
1/4 cup Water
1/4 cup Honey
1 teaspoon dried food-grade lavender
1/2 teaspoon dried orange peel
Stir the lavender and orange peel into the water in a pot over medium-high heat. Once the water begins to simmer, add the honey and stir until completely dissolved. Once cool, strain out the lavender and orange peel. Store the syrup in the refrigerator until you are ready to use it.
Here in the US, kale is primarily in season from January through April. With this window rapidly closing, we are trying to enjoy as much fresh, local kale as we can. So, when we got a beautiful bunch of Lacinato kale from our community supported agriculture (CSA) box, I decided to try something that, admittedly, sounds rather strange — massaged kale.
The inspiration for massaged kale came from a dish Jill ordered from Prato, a modern Italian restaurant that our friends in Winter Park, Florida took us to a while back. While their menu changes regularly, they often have a variation on the kale salad that does not disappoint.
To make my interpretation of the salad, you need:
1 Bunch of fresh Lacinato kale
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1 Tablespoon olive oil
2 Eggs, hard-boiled (see notes below), cut in half
4 Small sweet pepper (or a medium yellow or orange bell pepper) thinly sliced
4 Strips of crispy bacon, broken into small bits
2 Carrots, peeled and shredded
2 Radishes, thinly sliced
4 to 5 Fresh stawberries, sliced
Grated Parmesan, to taste
Remove the tough stems from the Kale and thinly slice the leaves. Toss the kale in a mixing bowl with the lemon juice, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Massage the kale vigorously with your fingertips for 2 minutes. The kale will soften and wilt slightly. Top the kale with the remaining ingredients to make a fresh, healthy salad. The lemon juice, olive oil, salt, and pepper used to massage the kale creates a nice coating, so additional salad dressing is not necessary. Makes 2 dinner-sized salads.
To make the perfect hard-boiled egg: Put the eggs in a saucepan that is large enough to cover them with 1 inch of cold water. Bring the water to a boil over medium heat. Once the water is boiling, put a lid on the pan and remove it from the heat. Wait 11 minutes, then drain the pot and place the eggs under cool running water for a minute. Carefully crack and peel the eggs.
Over the past year or so, Artie and I attended a couple dozen potluck events – Supper Clubs, work events, parties, etc. And pretty much every single time, I brought Rice Krispie Treats. It is my go-to potluck item. Easy to prepare, easy to transport, sort-of homemade, relatively low-cost, enjoyed by all. All the wins.
Recently I was wondering how I became the Rice Krispie Treat lady at every function, and I remembered that while I was writing my dissertation, I had to make a dessert for a fundraiser bake-off at work. What could be easier than Rice Krispies? Nothing. And so the obsession began dessert niche was formed.
Given how many Rice Krispies I’ve made, I’ve taken to experimenting with flavors and mix-ins. Some were winners (sprinkles!) while others were not so good (candy corn). But one recipe that consistently receives rave reviews is Salted Caramel Rice Krispie Treats. So by popular request, I give you the recipe (it is so easy, I almost hesitate to call it a recipe!).
Salted Caramel Rice Krispie Treats – adapted from the recipe on the Rice Krispies cereal box + many Pinterest finds
Stick of unsalted butter
Large box of Rice Krispies (generic cereal works just fine)
10-ounce bag of marshmallows (Publix brand are my favorite)
2/3 bag of caramel candies (I prefer the Kraft caramels pictured below)
Salt (sea salt or fancy salt is great, but regular salt works, too)
Rice Krispie Treats come together quickly, so start by getting all the ingredients and dishes prepped.
Remove the caramel candies from the bag and their individual wrappers. Using a sharp knife or kitchen shears, cut the candies into quarters. Do NOT put these in a bowl – they will end up stuck together (#learnedthehardway). Instead, lay the chopped up candies on a piece of parchment paper or wax paper.
Use one tablespoon of butter to grease a 9×13 baking dish. Hold onto the rest of that little pat of butter for later.
In a large pot, melt 7 tablespoons of butter over medium-low heat.
When the butter is melted, add the entire bag of marshmallows. Stir until the marshmallows are completely melted.
Add about 10 cups of Rice Krispies cereal and a pinch of salt.
Stir until everything is combined.
Pour about half the mixture into the 9×13 pan, pushing into an even layer with the back of the spoon. Sprinkle evenly with the chopped caramel candies. Top with the remaining Rice Krispies mixture.
Use the little pat of butter left over from earlier to grease a sheet of wax paper. With the greased side down, use the wax paper to gently press the Rice Krispies into the pan.
Sprinkle the top with just a little bit of salt. Press down to make sure the salt adheres.
Then comes the hardest part- allow the mixture to cool for at least an hour. The Rice Krispies will be much easier to cut if you let them sit for a while, but let’s be clear that I usually dig in right away.
Cut into squares with a sharp knife. Enjoy!
This “recipe” is pretty flexible – you can experiment with less or more butter, marshmallows, or cereal to get the flavor and texture you like best. You can also experiment with other mix-ins like chocolate chips, crushed cookies, sprinkles, etc.
I have found these will keep in an airtight container on the counter for a few days (if they last that long!). I’ve also been known to freeze individually wrapped leftovers for a sweet weeknight treat. Enjoy!
I love community supported agriculture (CSA). For a couple of dollars each week, I get fresh, local produce that is in season, and I support my local economy. It also forces me to diversify my cooking and to be creative. For example, this past week we received savoy cabbage, kale, a fennel bulb, spinach, lettuce, carrots, and one lonely beet. The savoy cabbage and carrots were destined for Asian Rotisserie Chicken Salad (a recipe from http://www.CookSmarts.com). The spinach and lettuce are destined for green smoothies. There are numerous options for the kale. But what to do with fennel and a beet?
I searched through my pantry for inspiration and came up with this idea for a soup made with the fennel, the beet, the kale, and a couple of pantry staples.
1 medium beet
1 fennel bulb, chopped
1 medium onion, diced
1 can (15.5 oz) chickpeas, drained
3 clove garlic, minced
1 (28 oz) can crushed tomatoes
2 teaspoons Balsamic vinegar
1 (32oz) carton low sodium chicken stock (vegetable stock would work also)
1/2 lime, zested and juiced
1 tablespoon butter
1/4 teaspoon Red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 bunch of kale, chopped
Salt and pepper
Preheat an oven to 425 degrees. Trim any stalk from the beet. Coat the beet with olive oil and season with salt and pepper (about 1/8 teaspoon of each). Wrap the beet in aluminum foil and put it in the oven. The beet should roast for 45 minutes to an hour, which is plenty of time to make the rest of the soup.
Toss the chopped fennel and the diced onion with two teaspoons of olive oil. Spread the fennel and onions evenly on a jellyroll pan or cookie sheet lined with parchment paper and roast for 12 minutes. Stir the fennel and onion mixture and roast for another 5 minutes. Stir the vegetable mixture again and add the chickpeas. Roast the fennel, onions, and chickpeas for 10 minutes.Roasting the fennel like this really helps mellow its flavor. Remove the pan with the fennel, onions, and chickpeas from the oven, but let the beet continue to roast.
While the beet roasts, heat a tablespoon of butter and 1/2 teaspoon of olive oil together in a 6-quart dutch oven over medium heat. Once the butter melts, add in the garlic and cook for 3 minutes, stirring frequently. The garlic should be a golden brown, but not burnt. Add in the dried chili flakes (you can add more if you prefer a spicier soup). Cook for an additional minute, then stir in the crushed tomatoes. Add in the balsamic vinegar. Let the tomato mixture cook for 3 minutes, then gradually stir in the chicken stock. Add in the lime zest and lime juice, the dried oregano, and the dried basil. The lime zest and juice adds a brightness to the soup that enhances the flavors of the other ingredients.
Add the roasted vegetables and chickpeas to the soup. Turn the soup down to low heat and let it simmer while the beet roasts. Once the beet has finished roasting, remove it from the oven and let it cool 10 minutes. Once cool, peel the outer skin from the beet, chop the beet, and add the chopped beet to the soup.
As a quick snack, I stole a slice of beet and put it on a Melba toast with a hunk of Mizithra cheese. Not a bad little snack to enjoy while the soup cooks.
Return the soup to medium heat and add the chopped kale. Season with salt and pepper to taste (I added about 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1/8 teaspoon of pepper).
Once the kale has wilted into the soup, it is ready to serve.
October is our annual “go buy all things pumpkin from Trader Joe’s” month. Each year we pick up a variety of pumpkin goods ranging from pumpkin bagels to canned pumpkin to pumpkin ice cream. Our new favorite are the Pumpkin Joe Joe’s, pumpkin sandwich cookies with a pumpkin cream filling.
Inspired by the variety of pumpkin goods at Trader Joe’s, I came up with this recipe for Pumpkin Ravioli Soup. Made entirely of ingredients purchased from Trader Joe’s, the pumpkin gives the soup a creamy texture. Using the prepared ingredients also makes this a quick dinner to cook.
1 tablespoon olive oil
8 oz Trader Joe’s mirepoix (pre-diced celery, carrots, onions)
2 Trader Joe’s sun dried tomato and basil chicken sausages
14.5 oz can Trader Joe’s diced and fire roasted tomatoes
1 teaspoon Trader Joe’s South African Smoke seasoning blend
8 oz Trader Joe’s organic pumpkin
15 oz can Trader Joe’s cannellini beans
32 oz Trader Joe’s organic free range chicken stock
In a 5 quart pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Once the oil is hot, but not smoking, add in the mirepoix and stir until the onions become translucent, about 3 minutes. Remove the sausages from their casing. Discard the casing and add the sausage to the mirepoix, breaking it up into small chunks as it cooks. Cook the mirepoix and sausage until the sausage is no longer pink, about 2 minutes. Add in the can of fire roasted tomatoes and the South African Smoke seasoning and cook for another 3 to 5 minutes. Add in the canned pumpkin and stir until the pumpkin dissolves into the mixture, then add in the beans. Carefully stir the mixture while pouring in the chicken stock. Bring the soup to a boil, then reduce the heat to low. Let the soup simmer for 15 minutes. Add the kale and stir until wilted. Add in the pumpkin ravioli and cook for 3 minutes. Salt to taste and serve the soup topped with a handful of pumpkin cornbread croutons.
The soup has a slight kick to it from the fire roasted tomatoes and South African Smoke seasoning, so substitute regular diced tomatoes and curry power or paprika if you prefer a milder soup.
Summer ingredients are perfect for light salads that are just right for the season’s hot afternoons. Fresh corn and blueberries pair especially well together, lending a slight sweetness and a taste that reminds me of childhood summers in South Georgia. This summer salad builds on this flavor combination and incorporated quinoa and salmon to make the salad a satisfying main course.
1 pint blueberries, rinsed
2 ears fresh corn, husks and silks removed
1 Cubanelle pepper, chopped
3 small, sweet red peppers, chopped
1/2 pint grape tomatoes, quartered
1 cup uncooked quinoa
2 tablespoons butter
Culantro (cilantro can be used as a substitute)
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 lb salmon
Mixed salad greens
Salt and pepper
Preheat an oven to 350 degrees. Cook a cup of quinoa according to the package directions. If buying bulk, add one cup of rinsed quinoa to two cups of water. Bring the water to a boil and turn the heat to low. Let the quinoa simmer for 15 minutes, then drain any remaining water. Once the quinoa is cooked, set aside to cool for 5 minutes.
While the quinoa cooks and cools, cut the kernels off of the cobs of both ears of corn. Toss the kernels of corn with the blueberries. Mix in the Cubanelle, sweet red peppers, and tomatoes. Mix in the quinoa and set aside. Season to taste with salt and pepper (about 1/8 teaspoon each).
To make a compound butter for the salmon, mix the butter, juice of half of a lime, and two teaspoons of chopped fresh culantro. Put the butter mixture into the refrigerator to cool.
While the butter mixture refrigerates, make a simple vinaigrette for the salad. In a small bowl, add the juice of the remaining lime and a half , the Dijon mustard, a tablespoon of chopped culantro, salt and pepper (about 1/8 teaspoon each). Whisk in 1/4 cup of olive oil.
When the vinaigrette is ready, set aside and get the compound butter out of the refrigerator. Spread the compound butter evenly over the non-skin side of the salmon. Heat 2 teaspoons of olive oil in a skillet over medium high heat. Add the salmon to the skillet, skin side down. Cook the salmon in the skillet for 3 minutes per side. Put a lid on the skillet and finish the salmon in the over for 10 minutes, or until cooked to the desired temperature.
Serve the blueberry-corn-quinoa mixture over mixed salad greens and drizzle with the vinaigrette. Top with salmon and serve.
Answer the following questions, then tag someone else. Easy enough.
What am I currently working on?
Jill: After wrapping up my 219-page masterpiece of a dissertation, I’m taking a little time off from writing to read all the books and watch all the Netflix. When I get tired of those two things, I’m going to try to publish all the articles based off the aforementioned dissertation. Oh yeah, and maybe go back to posting on this blog or my other blog.
Artie: How is this different from the question about how my writing process works?
How does my work differ from others of its genre?
Artie: We make no attempt to post regularly. It’s more of “here is a recipe we tried and we thought you might like it, too.” And because we often forget where we found good recipes, the blog serves as a catalog of things we like. Sorry to people who subscribe to our blog expecting regular content.
Jill: What he said.
Why do I write what I write?
Jill: I love to write. When I was little, I would always write stories (which were never very good). I’ve since accepted that I’m not ever going to write a heartbreaking work of staggering genius in the fiction category, but I’m fairly proficient in both academic writing and smart-aleck blogging.
Artie: That’s a good question…for the blog I’ll write a blog entry on something I will want to make in the future so I know where to find it later. So it’s kind of self-serving in a way.
How does my writing process work?
Jill: I think of something I want to write about. I make a note in my phone/planner/scrap of paper. I run out of time/lose the piece of paper/forget about it. Finally I sit down to blog and just make it up as I go along. But seriously, I believe in sloppy first drafts and lots of editing.
Artie: Specifically for the blog, as I’m cooking something, I jot down ingredients and amounts in a little notebook. I try to document in photos every step of the process, even if I know the photos won’t end up on the blog. Then I can recreate the recipe later. I go in the blog, drop in the photos I want to use in the order of the recipe and fill in the text.
So on to tagging! Who wants to take the Blog Hop baton and run with it?